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Holidays Bring Out Noodle Feasts

October 01, 1987|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

As the holiday season approaches, I look forward to at least two homemade noodle feasts. Homemade noodles are a tradition at our house on Thanksgiving, as well as at Christmas.

For about two months each year, part of my pre-holiday preparations consist of making fresh noodles for the freezer. Since you can freeze microwave-dried homemade noodles for about two months, I schedule my noodle-making activity in late October.

I follow the holiday noodle-making tradition of my mother and grandmother, and the recipe that follows is similar in ingredients and proportions to their recipe. They rolled out the dough thinly, cut it into strips and air-dried the noodles overnight. Drying the noodles caused an increase in the time it took to cook them. Since fresh dough is moist, it cooks in slightly more than 10 minutes, depending on thickness. Dried noodles, however, can take a longer time.

Flavor From the Broth

In my family, we have always simmered noodles in turkey or chicken broth. It was mother's and grandmother's theory that the longer you cooked the noodles, the more flavor they absorbed from the broth. This is why the noodles were dried ahead of time. But I have found that, by adding the concentrated flavor of bouillon granules, you can complete the process in less time.

Noodles can be dried and cooked in the microwave. When well wrapped in heavy-duty plastic wrap or placed in plastic storage bags, fresh noodles will keep in the refrigerator for about a week and in the freezer for about a month. Dried, they keep almost twice as long either refrigerated or frozen.

Cooking noodles in the microwave is a little different from stove-top simmering. Conventionally, you need about one quart of liquid for every four ounces of noodles. In the microwave, you can use less liquid because there is less chance of sticking.

Also, rather than adding noodles gradually to liquid boiling on the stove top, the noodles can be stirred all at once into the boiling liquid in the microwave and then stirred again just once or twice part way through cooking. The test for doneness is the same as conventional cooking: Bite into one of the thickest noodles; it should be al dente or tender, but still firm.

How to Dry Homemade Noodles

Dry homemade noodles in the microwave by spreading them loosely in a single layer in a large flat microwave dish. For the recipe that follows, microwave the noodles half at a time in a 13x9-inch dish. Microwave at MEDIUM-LOW (30% power) for 10 to 14 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes, until the noodles are dry but still pliable. Repeat with the remaining noodles. Store dried noodles in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to two weeks or freeze up to two months. Do not thaw before cooking.

To my family, one of the best things about homemade noodles are leftovers. Since we always eat our holiday feasts in the mid-afternoon, a bowl of leftover noodles tastes delicious sometime later in the evening. Because of their moistness, cooked noodles take only about 1 1/2 minutes per serving to heat in the microwave. If they are particularly dry, stir in one teaspoon of water before reheating.

HOMEMADE NOODLES

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Place eggs, milk and salt in medium mixing bowl. With fork, combine mixture well. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, to make stiff but pliable dough.

Divide dough in half. On floured board with floured rolling pin, roll out each half of dough to about 12x6-inch rectangle. Dough should be about 1/16 inch thick. If dough is sticky, turn and flour both sides while rolling. If dough seems to resist rolling, cover with plastic wrap and let stand about 10 minutes before rolling.

Let rolled dough stand about 20 minutes. Flour dough well and roll up jellyroll fashion from smallest end. Cut into slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Unroll noodles and set aside to air dry at room temperature about 1 hour before cooking. Makes about 6 cups cooked noodles.

Note: To cook, microwave Homemade Noodles in about 6 cups broth. At HIGH (100% power), bring broth to boil before adding noodles. Continue microwaving about 13 minutes or until cooked, stirring every 5 minutes.

I like to use chicken thighs in this recipe. There's just enough fat in the finished broth for good, rich flavor.

MIDWEST CHICKEN WITH HOMEMADE HERB NOODLES

4 cups plus 1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 pounds chicken thighs (about 12 thighs)

2 cubes chicken bouillon

2 eggs

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 cups flour

Place 4 cups water and salt in 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Add chicken thighs and drop in bouillon cubes. Cover and microwave at HIGH (100% power) 30 to 35 minutes, checking chicken and rearranging if necessary after about 15 minutes, until chicken is tender. Let chicken cool in broth.

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